The excitement is building in anticipation of Friday’s first Varsity Athletics meeting of 2019. Coetzenburg Track in Stellenbosch, the venue for the meeting, has undergone a couple of changes, team sheets are out and final preparations are taking place.
Now in its sixth year, Varsity Athletics has proven to be a platform for many university athletes to showcase their talents, including the likes of world beaters Wayde van Niekerk (Kovsies), Caster Semenya (NWU), Akani Simbini (Tuks) and Simon Magakwe (NWU) to name a few.
This year will see 2017 IAAF World Junior high jump champion, Breyton Poole, make his Varsity Athletics debut in the colours of Maties. He will be looking to break the Varsity Athletics record of 2.15m set by Mpho Links (NWU) in Pretoria last year and strengthen Team Maties’ chances of walking away with the overall prize.
UP-Tuks, who have dominated Varsity Athletics since its inception in 2014, have been dealt a big blow with the withdrawal of sprinter, Gift Leotlela, who was going to be one of the star attractions and the favourite in the men’s 200m, after he picked up an injury over the weekend.
According to Danie Cornelius, the Tuks team manager, the Pretoria-based team will still be gunning to win the overall competition. “Yes, we have unfortunately lost Gift and one or two others due to injury – but that’s just the nature of sport. We have won Varsity Athletics five out of six times and we’re looking to add a sixth star on our vest this year. We’ve got a very strong team despite the withdrawals and our preparations have been excellent – we are really looking forward to making our mark on Friday in Stellenbosch,” he told Varsity Sports.
When asked who the Coetzenburg crowd should look out for from Tuks, Cornelius said that two of his 400m hurdles athletes would be show-stoppers. “Zeney van der Walt in the ladies 400m hurdles and Sokwakhana (Socks) Zazini in the men’s 400m hurdles are two of our superstars.
“We truly believe that they are going to become household names in South African athletics and that’s the wonderful thing about Varsity Sports – it provides a platform for these youngsters to compete at a high level whilst they’re getting their education,” according to Cornelius.
Ilhaam Groenewald, chief director of Maties Sport told Varsity Sport yesterday that they are expecting a big crowd at Coetzenburg on Friday. If you are one of the few that still need to buy tickets, please do so by clicking here.
Varsity Athletics – #FasterFurtherHigher
By Shafiek Mouton @fiekie7